Thursday, March 14, 2013

Defenses, Armor Et Cetera

"Being chartered as a Privateer allows me to act on contracts through the Guard, but without any of the oversight being a charge of the State brings. Unfortunately, that makes me an easier target by those who disapprove of us meddling in criminal affairs. I have no particular grievance with the Thief Guilds, I'm looking to make some coin just like them!"
-Jones the Fighter

Blah. So, I've been revising the Armor and Defenses systems several times over in developing Sophia's Children. The Weaponry and Attacks system is well-forged at this point -- but that went through many more iterations before I settled on something. This blog post is going to be my thoughts on where things are at in the design -- so it is a little stream of consciousness.

Initially I started with a piece-meal armor system that calculated the total Armor Points of all Armor worn to calculate Armor Class and Special Resistance. I realized in doing character creation and some very minimal play testing that this was WAY TOO unwieldy and would bog down the play of the game itself. I retained the system, but "behind the scenes" to create the Armor items themselves which resulted in:

My second iteration which has all Armor worn as a single piece of equipment. While this has the simplicity I desire for a tabletop game, I am still flummoxed by my desire to differentiate further the two kinds of defenses in the system: Armor Class and Special Resistance.

The goal of the design is to present the choice to the player of gearing up against mundane attackers or against supernatural attackers. The other level of differentiation is between simpler abilities and stronger "special attackers" that usually target Special Resistance.

I am still mulling over several different systems and am actually mining all sorts of game design documents for ideas. Here is what I am presently considering:

All equipment is on four "slots." Your Main Hand and Off Hand which may include one two-handed weapon, two weapons or a weapon + shield. Your Armor which is a single piece of equipment that confers defense against mundane attacks. And your Ring which is a magical piece of equipment that confers defense against supernatural abilities.

I have, in this current iteration, split Special Resistance away from Armor. Your Ring (the only "magic item slot" in the system) can confer additional points of Special Resistance and may also provide additional bonuses to defenses against status effects. Some Rings even have additional abilities that go beyond just providing defense. I talk about Rings some more in this post.

Armor will continue to be in three type: Light, Heavy and Super Heavy. Light Armor will provide Armor Class points only. Heavy Armor will provide Damage Reduction and Armor Class. Super Heavy Armor will provide Damage Reduction only, but will only reduce the Agility bonus to Armor Class in half -- not the Intellect bonus to Special Resistance.

Armor providing bonus Maximum Hit Points was starting to create strange exceptions in my systems, it is simpler to recalculate the Armor types based on them only providing Armor Class and Damage Reduction.

Rings can now provide Special Resistance and / or Maximum Hit Points. The bonus Hit Points provided by Rings are a sort of supernatural effect of wearing the device. This does not cause strange effect as with Armor since Rings must be worn over a night's sleep (during a Rest, basically) to attune themselves to their wearer.

A result of this change is taking a look at how Dodging, Parrying and Blocking impact the defenses. Presently, all three reactive moves generate the same +4 to AC and SR -- though only Parrying can be used against Melee Attacks. As of now, in the design documents, Dodging will be useful against both AC and SR Attacks of all kinds (Melee or Ranged). Blocking is good against AC Attacks, both Ranged and Melee. Parrying is only good against AC Melee Attacks.

Sometimes my brain gets "stuck" trying to come up with a solution to these issues. While the above feels like a good solution and creates the diversity I am looking for at the complexity-threshold appropriate for a tabletop RPG, I still need to sit with it awhile.

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